Workers' Comp Claim by ASPCA Rescuer from 9/11 Denied

Posted By Katz Leidman Grossman Wolfe & Freund || 10-Dec-2015

After the 9/11 tragedy, a single mother of three, D. DiGiacomo was diagnosed with cancer. Shockingly, a state judge denied the workers’ compensation claim brought by the former-ASPCA worker who is dying from cancer caused by her animal rescue efforts on 9/11.

DiGiacomo, 52, spent three months near the wreckage of the World Trade Center rescuing pets left behind in nearby apartments, the NY Daily News reported.

Today, DiGiacomo is suffering with cancer that’s spread to her bones and brain. She weighs in at just 60 pounds and for the most part, is confined to a bed.

In his Nov. 16 ruling, Judge Marc Grodsky said there was no dispute in DiGiacomo’s medical evidence that her breast cancer developed at least in part due to the toxic fumes from the World Trade Center site.

Nevertheless, Grodsky concluded that DiGiacomo did not suffer from an “occupational disease” since the exposure did not stem from her work as an animal rescuer.

Instead, he said her exposure arose from an environmental condition that was specific to her work.

Further adding that the dust and particulates were a result of “environmental” conditions in the area following the World Trade Center attack.

Grodsky said that if DiGiacomo had done her work in another area, the exposure wouldn’t have occurred.

DiGiacomo’s attorney, S. Riordan, said that her work and the nature of it required her to respond to emergencies on behalf of her employer. Riordan said that it’s the nature of her employment to respond to emergencies and save and rescue animals.

Riordan called the judge’s finding “outrageous and a stretch,” the Daily News reported.

According to Judge Grodsky, other than perhaps firefighters, nobody else’s job meets the definition of an occupational disease claim.

Sadly, Grodsky admitted that if DiGiacomo had filed her paperwork before the deadline on Sep. 11, 2014, she would have been protected.

Why didn’t she file by the deadline? Because, she was not diagnosed with cancer until Oct. 2014. It didn’t relate to her at the time because she wasn’t sick.

DiGiacomo is filing an appeal. If her appeal is denied, her last hope for receiving the full value of her claim is with Congress.

Looking for a New York workers’ compensation lawyer? Contact Katz, Leidman, Grossman, Wolfe & Freund to schedule a free case evaluation!